Conversations with mum guilt
Oh mum guilt, and its many manifestations. It’s a funny old thing, isn’t it? The conversation often goes something like this:
- Me: I refuse to feel mum guilt. Go me!
- Mum guilt: Hi Gill
- Me: What are you doing here?
- Mum guilt: Just wanted to say hey
- Me: Really? Come on, you know you’re not welcome here…
- Mum guilt: I know, but I thought I’d see how you were doing. And about that thing…
- Me: What thing?
- Mum guilt: You know, *that* thing.
- Me: But it’s 3am and I’m trying to sleep
- Mum guilt: Yeah, I know, but… I’ll just pull up a chair shall I?
Guilt seems to be an inevitable part of the motherhood make-up, along with caffeine, striped tops and red lipstick. I really, really resolve not to feel it. But like a tired and teething toddler it follows me around, tugging at my skirt.
I feel minor flashes of mum guilt about many things, including, inevitably: bed times, balanced diets, screen time, the fact they only ever go swimming on holiday, being late because of this, the thought of this happening again, telling one or both of them to hurry up right after I’d read one too many Huffington Post weighty think pieces about ‘how I’ll never tell my daughter to hurry up’ and the list goes on.
But the latest one is finding out Florence doesn’t speak at nursery. She’s a talker from a long line of talkers (don’t get me or my mum started. I mean it). So it was a surprise to find out she just doesn’t speak at nursery – she speaks on the way there, she chatters away as soon as I lift her over the gate, she’s just silent there. If actions speak louder than words, what does it mean when she refuses to use any?
It’s a warm and nurturing environment, she settled in quickly and has a great time (honestly – I’ve seen her when she hasn’t seen me). She just doesn’t speak. While everyone has it down as a case of simple separation anxiety or shyness, for me this is now a full-blown case of oh my, what am I doing go her?!
- Me: ARGHHH, am I damaging her for life. Is she traumatised, what am I doing to her, am I, am I?
- Alex: I’m sure it’ll be fine
- Mum guilt: Enters stage left.What’s that you say? MmHmmm… *head tilt and knowing look*
But, as I have to remind myself, mum guilt shouldn’t be a factor when you do things in the best interests of you both based on the best possible decisions.
If you left your child with a pack of wolves while you went for a nose around Selfridges then out for cocktails till dawn and came home two days after then you probably should feel guilty about it. If you’re making the right decisions for you and your children then you shouldn’t feel guilty. I think.
I know it won’t go away, and you’ll always hear it as background noise. I think it’s probably quite healthy, in small amounts. But maybe it’s time to change the conversation to make it go something like this…
- Mum guilt: Hey Gill! About that random thing…
- Me: NO!
- Mum guilt: Woah! Calm down…
- Me: Shhh. SHUSH.
So down with random mum guilt, I reckon. I refuse to listen.